Creative ways to effectively market your photography services.
You’ve followed your passion for photography and started your own business but how do you get your name and photos in front of the right audience?
Marketing your photography services need not be expensive and time consuming. All you need are a few clever ideas to get the market talking. Below are some photography marketing ideas to get you started on your business journey.
- A few brownies go a long way. We have found that sending out treats such as brownies to planners or vendors has secured us a number of weddings because we were kept top of mind. Spending $20 - $25 on a box of brownies in return for potential business worth $2 500 makes it well worth the expense. At the same time you’re also building a relationship with these vendors, which is a great way to potentially be considered for future projects and events. Don’t worry if you’ve recently missed photography marketing opportunities such as this because there is still a chance to send out year end and holiday gifts. Tell the vendor how much you enjoyed working with them or simply wish them a prosperous new year. If you are looking for real convenience, companies such as greetabl.com send out little gifts with hand written notes for that personal touch.
- Send out handwritten notes. If you have recently worked with a venue, vendor or client, send them a hand written note after the event to thank them for their business.
- Take advantage of samples. Make a list of venues you would potentially like to work with and create sample photo books for them to keep on the premises. Ensure that your logo, website address and contact details can easily be seen by potential clients. When considering venues, ensure that you enjoy working with the vendors and that the clients would be able to afford your photography services. Refresh your photo books every 6 – 9 months to keep them looking professional and to ensure that they aren’t placed at the bottom of a pile of similar books. Showcasing your work at venues is like social media marketing, you need to regularly update your material to stay top of mind. Another clever idea is to place a few canvases at relevant stores. Bridal stores being an example.
- Networking is key. Building relationships with vendors and other photographers will increase the possibility of new opportunities. The law of reciprocity works wonders here. By referring vendors and creating strong relationships with them you are keeping yourself top of mind and this increases your chances of being referred by them too. If you are referring someone to a client, CC them in the email and speak to their strengths. This is not only gives your brand a positive boost but it’s also helpful in emergency situations.
- Set up a referral list. Make a list of 2 – 3 vendors in various categories that you enjoyed working with and tell them you would love to include them on your referral list. Place this list on your website so that potential clients know who you prefer to work with. Rather not ask for anything in return as they may or may not want to reciprocate.
- Reward client referrals. Another great photography marketing idea is to setup a referral program for your clients that let them advertise for you. Offer a discount, free prints or a free album when they refer family or friends to you. Pay attention in your consultation to find out what they would potentially like to purchase but cannot afford. For example, if they refer two clients that book with you they get a free album. That album might cost you $500 to produce but two weddings could bring you $5 000 in return.
- Give out printed proofs. In an age where digital reigns supreme, it’s nice to actually have printed photos around the house. Print out proofs for clients that have your brand on them that they can give to family and friends.
- Use photography marketing cards. A great way to use this at weddings is to create business cards by printing the couple’s engagement session and display these cards at the wedding (Check out the Magazine Mama Shop to purchase these). This way you are helping the bride out because their family and friends won’t need to ask for prints. Guests can simply take their card and refer to the online gallery. Keep in mind that the bride probably has a number of friends who are engaged and going to get married so this is a great way to get new sales. These cards will help you capture email addresses for future marketing purposes because whether it’s a wedding, a family shoot or head shots, everyone needs professional photography services at some stage. Another great opportunity is if you shoot to sell at a wedding. Take photos of people dancing with their dates, you’d be surprised at how popular these photos are. Some brides will even use these as favors on the tables. You can use moo.com/uk to print these cards and have a variety of shots on each card, almost like a trading card.
- Become a guest blogger. Find a few blogs or websites that have large amounts of content and offer to be a guest author for them. This may come in handy if they’re out of town and need someone to fill in for them. This is also a way to showcase your expertise and market your photography services.
- Blog about others. Jot down the names of a few leading industry experts and interview them. Send them a link to the interview that they can share on their platforms. Instant marketing for your business and brand. Just be sure that they work in an industry that would be relevant to your services.
- Create a focus group. Find a group of individuals who make up your target audience and perform your own market research. Find out about their needs and at the same time get feedback on your own offering and photography marketing material.
- Setup a styled photoshoot. Contact some of your favorite vendors and offer a free photoshoot. Provide the vendors with the edited files for use in their marketing. You can also use the photos to create a hard cover sample album that they can show potential clients. Be sure to clearly display your branding and contact details.
- Create a co-op photography marketing piece. Design a postcard, flyer, brochure or magazine insert that features some of the photos from your vendor shoots.
- E-mail Marketing. Get your customers to sign up for a weekly newsletter. A great way to collect email addresses is to offer something for free in exchange for their details. Research has shown that sending out newsletters on a Tuesday morning is very effective. Use pop up boxes on your website to make visitors aware of your newsletter. Try Pippity or Optin Monster for this. Offer visitors valuable content to keep them coming back.
- Social media advertising. Boost a few social media posts to get your content and brand in front of the right audience. The social media advertising model is great in the sense that you can limit how much you spend each day. Facebook also has a great feature that allows you to create a look-alike audience by using the names and emails of clients you usually market to.
- Print Business cards. The beauty of printing business cards is that you can carry them with you everywhere you go. If you happen to exchange cards with someone, jot down a few notes about them so that you can connect with them on a more personal level when you do contact them. If you have some additional budget you can also consider printing two different types of business cards. One with your branding and general contact details and another with a specific special offer on it. Websites such as moo.com allows you to print on both sides of your business card. Use one side for your logo and contact details and the other side for your photos. This could be senior, wedding or even newborn photos. Business cards are also an easy way to drive more traffic to your website.
- Use every day situations. If you happen to be at the checkout in a store and they ask you whether you want your receipt printed or emailed to you, opt for both. By using your business email you can potentially spark a conversation about your photography services. You never know who might be getting married or wants to learn more about photography themselves. This gives you the chance to sell them your services or tell them about an upcoming course that you’ll be hosting. Remember to have your business card ready to hand over.
- Volunteer for non-profits. This is also related to reciprocity in the sense that because you are doing something for free and helping someone else, they will more than likely want to help you in return. This is a great way to get your name out there. For example, if you’re a pet photographer, offer to volunteer at your local animal shelter and take pictures for their website or at their fundraising events.
- Conduct a survey. There are various ways for you to use a survey to improve your business. One way is to use an exit survey that clients can fill out after they have used your services. Another way is to use a survey to perform actual market research. Present potential clients with a survey before they actually book you or even meet with you. In exchange for completing the survey, send them something like a $5 Starbucks gift card or you can enter them into a draw to win a gift card worth a higher amount. If you are dealing with a specific audience such as brides, make the gift card for a store or event that they would really be interested in. Once you have your prize figured out you can craft your survey and fill it with three of your key selling points.
One of the platforms that I highly recommend is Survey Monkey. For example, one of your questions might be:
Your Studio Photography includes high resolution files in their packages. How important are these digital files to you?
- Somewhat Important
- Very Important
- Not Important At All
You want to keep your questions brief and easy. If you stick with multiple choice questions, that is usually the best approach. If you are a wedding photographer ask them to provide you with their wedding date and find out whether they have booked a photographer as yet. It might also be helpful for them to indicate the budget range they have available for their wedding photography so that you know whether this is a potential lead or not.
Thank them for their time and for taking the survey. Let them know when the prize draw will be taking place and how the winners will be announced and contacted. You might also want to include a yes or no box asking them whether they would like to be contacted about a consultation.
20. Rent a studio. By renting a studio space or a meeting room in a nice office building you can professionally meet with your clients and avoid any distractions such as those you would find in your local coffee shop. It is well worth the investment and there is also the option to share a rented space with other suppliers or photographers if you want to cut costs. A proper studio space also gives you the opportunity to properly present and sell your photography services.
- Offer free shoots. Offer to do a free shoot for a venue or event. Don’t charge them to begin with as this will get your foot in the door and it gives you the opportunity to upsell them at a later stage.
- Try out Groupon. This tends to be quite a controversial photography marketing idea as a number of photographers say it makes your business look cheap. However, if you are just starting out and want to build up your portfolio, it might be a good option to look into. If you do decide to go ahead with Groupon you should make it a limited offer so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Limit it to a certain time period or even to specific areas. Make sure you set an expiry date.
You’ll want to keep a calendar and sign-up sheet in order to keep track of bookings and to avoid double bookings. It’s also a good idea to let clients know that there are no refunds or chances to reschedule if they don’t make it to their appointment. Be specific about being paid for time only and that any additional purchases are separate. It’s also highly recommended that you give the client a time limit for the shoot as well as how many people are included. If they want additional people to be included then rather charge an additional fee. Set aside specific dates and times to deal with Groupon clients so that you can spend the rest of your time on your other clients.
- Giveaway gift cards. Allowing clients to purchase photography gift cards is a great marketing idea for photographers, especially during the holiday season. According to a survey from the National Retail Federation, approximately 81% of adults in America will purchase one gift card during the holidays if not more. Gift cards let clients take advantage of a special offer now while still having the flexibility to schedule their photoshoot at a less busy time of the year. Below are 5 ways to use gift cards in your photography marketing plan:
- Offer a special on gift card purchases. Buy One, Get One Free or even Buy Two, Get One Free are examples of potential offers. Customers give the gift of photography to someone else and are still rewarded with a gift for themselves
- Offer kickback incentives. Provide a client with a certain amount of credit for every ‘x’ amount purchased in gift cards for others. This will vary based on your business model but perhaps $10 for every $100 or $50 for every $200 spent etc…
- Include charitable giving with gift card purchases. Everyone loves it when their purchase helps a good cause. Find a cause that is dear to you and let your clients know that you will be donating a certain percentage of their gift card purchase amount to your chosen charity
- Offer discount incentives. For example, purchase a $350 gift card for only $250
- Give away gift cards for free. Surprise your best clients by sending them a gift card for a free session. You can then upsell them at a later stage. Or send them a gift card for $50 off a purchase of $200 or more. Again, the amounts you use will depend on your business and the cost of your packages and products.
Print your gift cards on quality paper and present them in beautiful packaging. Include details such as the gift card amount, expiration date and any relevant disclaimers.
- Get published. Another marketing opportunity for photographers is to use a service such as twobrightlights.com to submit your photos. Ensure that the photos you submit are in line with what the magazine features. Also, don’t send photographs that the publisher doesn’t ask for and definitely don’t include a watermark on your images. The magazine’s demographic should also match your own.
- Run a contest. Use a company such as heyo.com or www.rafflecopter.com to collect email addresses. Have the contest run for around 7 days and keep the mechanics as simple as possible. They should only have to provide their name and email in order to sign up. Send the participants an email update that tells them when the winner will be announced. Once the winner is announced you could even send all participants a thank you email, which includes a coupon code that they can use to claim a discount on their next photo session. Remember to include an expiration date as motivation for them to sign up sooner.